Renee Yackey: Candidate Profile
West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: West Chicago
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: West Chicago Park Board (6-year Terms)
Family: I live with my husband Mark and our 2 children Katie (17 y.o senior) and Justin (14 y.o.freshman)
Occupation: Physical Therapist
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology and Physical Therapy from University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse
Civic involvement: Current VP Booster Club West Chicago High School, Volunteer at Benjamin District #25 leading fall fundraiser, Softball Coach for Park District 4 years, Volunteer Aurora Suzuki Violin, Active in local church activities
Elected offices held: None.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Communication: The need for efficient and timely communication that bolsters a trusting relationship both internally and externally cannot be underestimated. To get direct communication from the school to its shareholders on issues that are not only pressing but also positive must be a priority. This cannot be a budgetary decision. I believe that a semi-annual or quarterly newsletter as well as a community relations person is sorely needed. Much of what is reported in local newspapers deals with negative items such as stalled contract talks, and the leaving of the DVC to name some recent issues. We as a school must take the lead in defining who we are and the positive events that are happening at WCHS. I truly believe that how WCHS performs, as it is a one school district, reflects heavily on our community as a whole. A more positive vibrant school leads to a more vibrant prosperous community.
Key Issue 2
Academic Achievement: Talk of school and academic achievement go hand in hand. Unfortunately with the previous "No Child Left Behind" standards schools were under, many schools like WCHS have taken a negative hit on how these unrealistic expectations were not met. Therefore it must always be the priority of the board to ensure an environment for the highest educational opportunities for all of our students especially with the shift to the new common core standards. I believe this will come from many directions. One, continuing to offer AP courses as well as interventions that target certain or specific deficiencies. Second, we need to focus on the "average" student who neither excels, or struggles to allow these students to reach a higher potential. The collective and creative work of the administrative and talented and dedicated staff can drive the results we desire for our school.
Key Issue 3
Technology: Most of the students graduating from WCHS this year have never known a world without technology. Access to information is literally at their fingertips with the latest "app". The idea that knowledge is power has been replaced with access to that knowledge. We as a school must provide the education for our students to know how to access reliable information and then, more importantly, how to think critically to use this information. Does this mean that every student at WCHS must be provided with an IPAD or laptop? Are text books becoming obsolete? These are some of the questions the board in partnership with the administration must tackle to ensure our students can compete effectively in the future.
What do you think about the shift to the common core standards? How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?
I am hopeful for the potential the common core standards hold. I believe it is the role of the Board of Education to become educated on the changes and requirements of the new common core standards and to set the expectations for Administration and staff to achieve these goals. That being said it is the function of the board to act as a governance on these issues not set the curriculum. It is better left to those educated in their field to set the curriculum. I am confident in the talented and educated professionals at WCHS who have shown leadership and innovation in the past by providing a curriculum often replicated by other districts, such as our government class.
How satisfied are you that your district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
With the economic downturn in the last several years findings show that at the most basic entry level positions employers are still looking to fill those positions with college graduates. It is imperative that both students and parents understand these factors and how it will affect their future choices. The school must stress the vital role parents play in the success of their student. Additionally, with continued emphasis on all our students achieving higher academic results as well as greater exposure to technology, students graduating from WCHS will be better prepared for the next stage in their lives. For those who are not college bound opportunities such as those found at TCD must be stressed to allow these students to become certified in a skilled trade.
What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax increases?
The need to make sure we are providing the most supportive and opportunistic environment for our students to grow and learn in while doing this within our means must always be a priority for the board. The dire financial situation the state of Illinois is currently facing and the looming shift of pension costs make these issues even more complicated. There is no single or easy answer to this issue. I believe that we must not immediately think about cutting programs or raising taxes, neither of which I support, but we must think creatively and collectively to increase revenue and eliminate wasteful practices. For example looking for increased grants the school receives or partnership opportunities with businesses or the local park district. Additionally working with our communities to attract more business within the District 94 boundaries will help to increase our tax revenue base and is another reason why I believe more positive communication is vital.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups, do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
I believe the most successful negotiations are made in an environment of mutual trust and respect for each others positions. I would work hard to find the balance between the need for adequate and fair compensation while being keenly aware of the heavy burden tax payers already incur.
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?
The practice of "bumping" a retiring superintendent or other administrator salary for mere personal gain is simply wrong. This provides no benefit to the school and is another burden our already burdened state cannot bear. I would NOT support a substantial increase in pay for a retiring superintendent or other administrator.
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